Freedom of movement is everybody’s right!
copyright: Salinia Stroux
Freedom of movement is everybody’s right!
In Athens in January Themistokleous 58 / Exarhia opened with about 40 places. Another squat was established in Patrizia with about 18 places for refugees and in the end of February the gates of the famous Athens Polytechnikums were opened. The last available number of hosted refugees was 70. The number is growing.
“There is no food here. I want to go Germany, Denmark or Holland. I want to study sciences.”
Z., 12 years old unaccompanied minor from Afghanistan
“We know that here in Greece there is no help for us. There is no work. Greek people are jobless. I want to go to Germany because there they accept us.”
M., 15 years old unaccompanied minor from Afghanistan
Ellinikon has three spaces: the former airport, a hockey stadium and since today also a baseball field. Currently, there are about 4,000 refugees temporarily hosted there. Refugees there complain about the food in the camp: “Its expired. We had to buy ourselves food in order to give to our children, outherwise they would starve. Other people do not have the money though.” Meanwhile hundreds of unaccompanied minors remain unidentified in substandard mass reception centers as this one lacking any protection or special support.
“We cannot survive here! Please reopen the border! We have disabled people with us, babies, and pregnant women. In Greece there are no facilities!”, says Mohsen from Afghanistan. Sitting next to him in a wheelchair is his 85 year old father, who collapsed. Some meters away -on a blanket on the ground sits the rest of the 11-member family. They came from the city of Herat in Afghanistan. “Our plan is to go to Germany, to start a safe life there. But now I cannot think anymore. I am totally confused”, says Mohsen.
The famous Victoria Square where thousands of refugees all over the world passed the last years during their risky trip to northern Europe, looks like a war zone. Since last Sunday when the Western Balcans under the instructions of Austria decided to close the border for any refugees other than Syrians and Iraqis, this small square in the heart of Athens, is again the symbol of the failure of European migration policies. It shows in the most painful way how unprepared Europe was to this hugest refugee movement since second world war. More than 25,000 refugees were hemmed in Greece according to estimations on Saturday the 27th of February. All over Greece refugees sleep in parks, they are homeless heading on foot northwards. At the the same time, approximately, another 2,000-3,000 refugees arrive daily to Greece. Continue reading ‘“We cannot survive here!” – Refugees desperate to flee humanitarian crisis in Greece’
“I am trying since more than one month to make an asylum request at the Asylum Service in Athens, but I can’t get access!”, says A. a 19-year-old refugee from Sierra Leone who is staying in the open transfer camp in the district of Elaionas in Athens. Continue reading ‘If the border to FYROM closes, reception conditions in Athens for refugees will become unbearable!’
300 persons in a sit-in, more than 150 on hunger strike, 45 children, at least 9 collapsed, 8 days sit-in, 3 days hunger strike
In a bid for better living conditions, temporary working permits and medical care, more than 200 Syrians – among them many families with small children – fleeing the war-torn country and seeking asylum in the EU, have begun a hunger strike in Athens’ main square. Protesters began to gather on Syntagma Square on November 19, camping out and sleeping on cardboard boxes and in sleeping bags before staging the hunger strike on Monday. Dozens of Syrians are living homeless in the streets of Athens and Thessaloniki without any support. The demonstrators, many of who sat with masking tape covering their mouths, called for the Greek government find a way to solve the refugee crisis. Read their declaration:
SYRIAN REFUGGEES IN GREECE AT SYNTAGMA SQUARE
We are the Syrian refugees who are standing from 19 November 2014 outside of Greek Parliament in Athens at Syntagma square.
We started hunger strike on 24 of November.
We demand full asylum rights as refugees.
We escaped from death in Syria. We escaped from death passing the Aegean sea. We want to live with dignity in Europe.
Our demands are the following:
· Open the boarding gates by affording us proper travel documents to enable us to travel abroad, inside European Union.
· Support the Syrian refugees who are blocked in Greece. Book ships to transfer them to the countries which have already announced that they are ready to accept them.
· Support Syrian refugees with full rights of refugee which include: regular salaries, shelter, food, health insurance, education, reunification of their families, and work permit.
We call the Greek government to solve this issue immediately.
We appeal to Greek Parliament to support our case.
We appeal to Greek people for solidarity to our demand for full asylum rights.
“Hunger strike until freedom”*
On November 17th, 2014 hundreds of refugees detained administratively in the pre-removal centre of Amygdaleza started to protest massively against the prolonged detention of more than 18 months, against the detention of dozens of minors and the detention conditions that amongst others recently led to the death of two detainees.
“They coop us up here like sheep and then don’t care anymore about us. (…)”
“There are persons detained 26 months. (…)”
“When we say ‘my stomach hurts’, they’d answer ‘my balls hurt’.”
Only on November 6th the 26-year-old Mohammed Asfak died of the consequences of beating by law enforcement officers in Corinth detention centre during one of the uprisings of migrants there 5-6 months ago. His injuries had not been taken care of adequately. He was only transferred to hospital after a break down. For 15 days he had been begging the police to bring him to the hospital as he had respiratory problems. When asking for medical aid, police even replied: “Die, we don’t care.” Only some days after this tragic incident, another detainee from Bangladesh died of lacking sufficient medical aid.
Yesterday, on the third day of hunger strike the Movement against Racism and Fascist Threat (KEERFA) reported of 15 detainees who had been transferred to the hospital after fainting and 90% participation in the hunger strike. KEERFA furthermore said that the detainees chose to go on hunger strike on November 17 as a symbolic move because the particular date marks the 41st anniversary of the student uprising against the junta.
The Amygdaleza detention center is 10 kilometers away from Athens and it is supposed to hold 1,000 inmates. In October 2014, the number of detainees was 1,600. The facility has repeatedly come under serious criticism both due to the indefinite time of the detention of migrants and refugees, as well as the squalid conditions they are held in. Among the approximately 1,600 detainees are many vulnerable groups such as 15-year-old children, asylum seekers, de facto refugees such as Syrians and other nationalities whose deportation is not feasible according to UNHCR such as Eritreans. There are also persons with close relatives in other EU-member states awaiting family reunification, victims of torture who have never been identified by the authorities and sick persons.
“We will fight until freedom”, an underage refugee declared, who has been registered as adult.
In Amigdaleza detention centre where currently around 1,650 sans-papiers are detained, some of which are there even longer than 18 months, a Pakistani migrant died today of a heart attack. His case is the third medical case of a detainee in detention with fatal consequences due to insufficient medical aid.
koutitispandoras (in greek)
efymerida ton sindakton (in greek)
Greece needs more EU funds for immigration, minister says
Greece needs more funding from the European Union to deal with the increased flow of undocumented immigrants in the eastern Aegean, Public Order Minister Vassilis Kikilias said in an interview with Sunday’s Kathimerini.
According to the minister, there has been an 800 percent increase in the number of irregular migrants reaching Greece via boat from Turkey over the last two years.
He said that Greece was finding it increasingly difficult to deal with this influx and that it would require further funding from the EU, which has recently reduced the budget for its Frontex border agency.
Kikilias said Greece has asked for emergency funding to cover the cost of hosting migrants in reception centers and to create a mobile unit to process asylum applications.
“On the one hand it is our duty to protect our borders, on the other it is also our duty to provide humane holding conditions to migrants, who are, after all, human souls in absolute misery,” he said.
In a Press Release concerning the first year of its functioning (June 2013-May 2014) the Asylum Service reported that 8,945 persons applied for asylum of which most were from Afghans. Among the asylum seekers were also 430 unaccompanied minors.
In first instance 926 persons received international protection status (643 refugee status, 283 subsidiary) mainly coming from Palestine, Syria, Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia. 3,674 first instance applications were negative.
The recognition rate in first instance reached 20,1 % while 1,344 applications were closed for different reasons.
In average the asylum procedure takes 122 days according to the Press Release, nevertheless refugees report periods of up to some months until they manage to put their asylum claim while cueing every day from the early morning.
1,162 made a subsequent claim. Many of which might have been detainees as they are reportedly often advised falsely by police officers to withdraw from their claims in order to be released sooner from detention. 1,695 persons applied for asylum from inside detention centres. At the same time 2,807 appeals were made against first instance rejections. Of 2,015 second instance decisions 86,1% were negative.
Most asylum claims are proceeded in the Asylum Service in Athens (81,6%) but there are also offices in the periphery, namely in North and South Evros, in Lesvos, Rhodes as well as asylum service teams in Amigdaleza, Thessaloniki and Patras. It is still a great obstacle for all international protection seekers living in other areas of Greece to reach to one of the asylum services.
Finally, a large number of asylum claims are still proceeded by the Aliens Police Directorate in Petrou Ralli, Athens. Asylum seekers in the “old system” are still waiting after years to get their claims answered while they face other kinds of obstacles with the procedures. This “two class asylum system” has been criticised since the beginning of the Asylum Service.